September 12, 2008

Palin Defends Qualifications — She Says ‘I’M Ready’ to Be VP, Seems Fuzzy on Bush’s Pre-Emption Policy

By Brett J Blackledge

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - John McCain running mate Sarah Palin sought Thursday to defend her qualifications but was unable to describe President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against threatening nations and acknowledged she's never met a foreign head of state.

The Republican vice presidential nominee told Charles Gibson of ABC News in her first televised interview since being named to the GOP ticket that "I'm ready" to be president if called upon. She said she "didn't hesitate" when McCain asked her to be his running mate.

"I answered him 'yes' because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink," she said.

Palin, 44, has been Alaska's governor for less than two years and before that was a small-town mayor. McCain defends her qualifications, citing her command of the Alaska National Guard and Alaska's proximity to Russia.

Asked whether those were sufficient credentials, Palin said: "It is about reform of government and it's about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues." She said she brings expertise in making the country energy independent as a former chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Palin said other than a trip to visit soldiers in Kuwait and Germany, her only other foreign travel was to Mexico and Canada. She said she hasn't met a head of state.

"If you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."

Pressed about what insights into Russia she gained by living in Alaska, Palin answered: "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

Foreign policy questions dominated the first of three interviews Palin was giving Gibson over two days. ABC will air an hourlong special on the interviews at 9 p.m. CDT today.

Also in the interview:

Palin appeared unsure of the Bush doctrine, which is that the United States must help spread democracy to stop terrorism and that the nation will act pre-emptively to stop potential foes.

Asked whether she agreed with the doctrine, Palin said: "In what respect, Charlie?" Gibson pressed her for an interpretation of it. She said: "His world view."

That prompted Gibson to say "no, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war." He then described it to her.

"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation," Palin said.

Gibson asked whether the United States could attack terrorists in Pakistan without permission.

"If there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."

Palin called for Georgia and the Ukraine to be included in NATO. Asked if she would support going to war against Russia if it attacked Georgia or Ukraine, she said, "Perhaps so," though she stressed economic sanctions as the first reaction.

Palin backtracked on an assertion she made at her former church, where she said "our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God."

Asked whether she thought the United States was fighting a holy war, she said she meant to convey that she agreed with Abraham Lincoln's quote that "I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words."

Originally published by Brett J. Blackledge Associated Press .

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